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TORONTO – Canadian TV screens were filled Wednesday with replays of an apparent attempt on the life of the Quebec election winner, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois.
Around midnight Tuesday, Marois was giving a victory speech on nationwide TV when burly bodyguards suddenly whisked her off stage.
Momentary confusion was broken with startling news that a 62-year-old gunman in a bathrobe and a balaclava over his head had entered the Montreal concert to shoot one man dead and critically injure another man.
Police arrested the assailant outside the theater as he made his escape.
But what the accused killer shouted in French to TV cameras as he was being quickly led away shocked Canadians: “The English are waking up.”
That statement is an echo of Quebec’s long divide between its French- and English-speaking populations, tension that has led to two earlier failed referendums by the Parti Quebecois to separate from Canada.
Before the attempt at political assassination, Marois and the Parti Quebecois were celebrating a victory that allows them to form a minority government in Quebec.
It is unclear whether Marois will call for a third referendum calling on Quebeckers to separate from Canada and form their own country.
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